Awwwwww. Just…awwwwwww. What a sweet little fairytale of a movie this is, in spite of Shashi’s somewhat unbelievable simpleton act. It’s made by the same team who made Jab Jab Phool Khile: the same (almost) exact cast, director and music director. It shares some plot elements too: rich educated girl meets simple illiterate boy; they fall in love, then separate and finally are reunited against all odds.
But I liked Raja Saab better, mostly because it’s relatively free of the obnoxious misogynism of JJPK, and has some very hilarious sight gags. The Shashi-Rajendranath combo is quite funny too. Or maybe I was in a better mood when I watched it. Who knows?
Anyway, Raju (Shashi Kapoor) is an (adult) orphan and a bit of a simpleton, who gets booted from the orphanage when he unwittingly insults a visiting Princess (Nanda) by forgetting that he’s NOT her prince in shining armor.
Raju is a Walter Mitty character, who gets lost in his daydreams of being rich and royal, which leads him into trouble and out of work (not to mention the orphanage, now). But can someone enlighten me about Raju’s little hair curlicue cowlick thing? Is it symbolic of something, or was the hairstylist just having some fun?
I also fail to understand Nanda’s bright blue contact lenses, even though a lame attempt to explain them is made later on. But I digress. Raju finds a new job as a masseur, and is called to a real Prince’s palatial home.
Fab! This Prince, Pratap Singh (Rajendranath) is not a very happy fellow, and Raju’s inept massage techniques don’t endear him at first (although the actors look like they are having trouble not breaking into laughter).
But Raju’s antics soon have Pratap Singh laughing for the first time in his life. He tells Raju that he will fulfill any desire that Raju has, and Raju asks him to make him a King.
And me! Just then the uncle (Kamal Kapoor) of Pratap Singh’s intended fiancee, Princess Poonam, calls to ask Pratap Singh to meet her in Kashmir (where she is on vacation) so that they can finalize their engagement and marriage. They have never met, but have traded insults through the mail.
I want that telephone. When Poonam’s uncle insists upon them meeting, Pratap Singh hits upon the brilliant idea to have Raju pose as him while he assumes the guise of “Raja Saab’s” secretary.
He gives Raju a makeover (thank goodness!) and refines some of his habits, and off they go to beautiful, beautiful Kashmir.
Pratap Singh’s plan is for Raja Saab to insult Poonam, partly in revenge for a snippy letter she has sent him, and also so that their engagement is broken. To that end, he provides a dialogue for him, in anticipation of Poonam’s apology for her insulting letter, and makes him practice it over and over.
Poonam, naturally, is none other than the same Princess Raju had annoyed at the orphanage. She is accompanied by her secretary Malti, played by a favorite actress of mine, Shammi (and no, not because of the name!).
Also present is Prince Kunwar (Pratap Singh calls him “that cartoon Prince”), who is after Poonam for her money, and who had been with her on the orphanage visit. They both think that Raju looks vaguely familiar, but Pratap Singh explains it away.
For his part, Raju is smitten with the lovely Princess. This makes his task of insulting her very difficult. He does try, by breaking into the letter dialogue randomly and at every opportunity, but it doesn’t really have any effect except to make Raju look a little crazy. Luckily for Pratap Singh, the rival Prince arranges for Raju to get drunk at dinner that evening, and poor inebriated Raju mistakes Poonam’s room (and her night clothes) for his own.
The commotion brings Kunwar and others to her rescue, and then Raju’s clothes are discovered in her bedroom, leading to much embarrassment for Poonam. Pratap Singh is jubilant.
Pratap Singh also spots the woman of his dreams at this point and we veer off into the comic side plot. His love is played by Kumari Naaz, and she’s gorgeous.
Having discovered love himself, Pratap Singh is sympathetic when he finds out that Raju is in love with Poonam, and heartbroken at her continuing wrath (even in the face of a song he sings to her out on the lake, “Kal Raat Waali”). He helps Raju by getting rid of Kunwar (an elaborate costume drama which is pretty funny), and love blossoms after a few more mishaps.
But Poonam’s uncle is about to arrive, and he has met the real Pratap Singh. Raju realizes this, and asks Poonam what she would do if he were poor. She replies that love by itself is not enough.
Of course, to her his question seems rhetorical, but Raju is heartbroken. He leaves that night, and Pratap Singh explains everything to her when her uncle arrives the next day.
Appalled at her blunder, Poonam takes Malti and goes to the city to search for Raju. Raju, meanwhile, is a changed man. He no longer daydreams, and has a job. He has grown up, and gained some self-respect. Poonam quickly realizes that he won’t take her back unless he thinks she is poor herself, so she convinces him that she, too, was masquerading as royalty. They reunite happily to a snappy tune, “Tu Jungle Ki Morni.”
But as my mom always said, two wrongs don’t make a right, and her lie is going to catch up with them too. What will happen when it does? What will her uncle do? Can she really give up all her wealth?
Watch Raja Saab to find out, and for some good laughs and catchy songs by Kalyanji Anandji too.
Also see Bollyviewer’s review of this film—which convinced me I had to see it, too!